As a former nursing mother who often breast fed in public, I think the moms are absolutely correct that there is nothing obscene or indecent about nursing in public with the proviso that mothers are discreet, modest, and respectful of others. And there's the rub. Many of the photos are neither discreet nor modest. Is it possible to nurse modestly without baring oneself to the world? Of course, I used to wear loose knit tops that fell over the baby's face as he/she nursed and fed my little ones in movie theatres, on mall benches, in church, and wherever else the baby was hungry or needed to be quiet. Once at a meeting a male friend came over to admire my newborn and only when he got close did he realize I was nursing. He couldn't see anything, but got flustered. I just smiled and showed him the baby when I was finished and put back together. A nursing acquaintance of mine took her new, long-awaited baby on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving to Lourdes. She bought a large brimmed bonnet for her little girl and nursed across Europe totally covered by the baby's hat.
But discreet nursing isn't what these moms are talking about. They want to proclaim their right to pop out their breasts in public for all to see. I have known nursing mothers like that. It's as if feeding their babies is not so much about nourishment and nurturing, but a political statement. If you don't like it, don't look, they say. Easier said than done especially if little boys or teenagers on the cusp of manhood are nearby.
So I stand with Facebook on this one; they are upholding common sense. The mothers, on the other hand, are illustrating a grave problem in our culture -- the lost virtues of modesty and prudence. Yes, breastfeeding is natural and good, but it also deserves to be treated with dignity and mystery. Something mystical happens between the little one at the breast who looks into Mommy's eyes and sees her as the first image of God. When Mom shoves her bare breast in the public's face what does she think people see? Certainly not the baby focusing on Mommy's face. No, the breast takes center stage - in a way not too unlike the exploitation of women's bodies in other settings.
Let the breastfeeding moms of the world unite, not in a war over their right to let it all hang out in public, but in a contest on creative ways to breastfeed modestly in public. If these moms think about it perhaps they will have the same concern for young men tempted by nudity, whatever the setting, as they have for the little newborn suckling at the breast.